From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
Kriste Lynn Ferrell, age 38, of Bel Air, Maryland pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy arising from a scheme to embezzle over $225,000 from her employer.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to Ferrell’s guilty plea, K-Line America was the American subsidiary of a multinational corporation specializing in international ocean cargo transportation. K-Line was headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, and had an office on 3600 O’Donnell Street in Baltimore. Ferrell began working for K-Line in 1990 and, after moving to the Baltimore area in 2003, served as administrative assistant to the manager of K-Line’s Baltimore office, submitting vendor invoices received in K-Line’s Baltimore office to the corporate headquarters for payment.
Beginning in late 2003 or early 2004, through August 2009, Ferrell conspired with her manager to submit approximately 620 false invoices to K-Line in the name of Chesapeake Cargo Services, an entity Ferrell created that existed in name only, claiming $225,921.35 in services rendered. To accomplish the scheme, Ferrell submitted to K-Line’s headquarters inflated, fraudulent Chesapeake Cargo invoices in place of legitimate invoices she received from a vendor that provided actual services to K-Line. Once K-Line paid the inflated Chesapeake Cargo invoice and mailed a check to a post office box under Ferrell’s control, Ferrell deposited the embezzled K-Line funds into Chesapeake Cargo’s bank account, paid the vendor and kept the difference for herself and her manager. Ferrell used the Chesapeake Cargo bank account to make personal purchases for herself and to make cash payments to her manager.
As part of her plea agreement, Ferrell has agreed to pay restitution of $100,894.95, the amount of embezzled funds which Ferrell used for her personal benefit.
Ferrell faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg scheduled sentencing for February 3, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its investigative work and thanked Assistant United States Attorney Sujit Raman, who is prosecuting the case.